Over the last decade, significant progress has been made in the field of drug delivery. The advent of engineered nanoparticles has allowed us to circumvent the initial limitations to drug delivery such as pharmacokinetics and solubility. However, in spite of significant advances to tumor targeting, an effective treatment strategy for malignant tumors still remains elusive. Tumors possess distinct physiological features which allow them to resist traditional treatment approaches. This combined with the complexity of the biological system presents significant hurdles to the site-specific delivery of therapeutic drugs. One of the key features of engineered nanoparticles is that these can be tailored to execute specific functions. With this review, we hope to provide the reader with a clear understanding and knowledge of biological barriers and the methods to exploit these characteristics to design multifunctional nanocarriers, effect useful dosing regimens and subsequently improve therapeutic outcomes in the clinic.